Once I decide what I want to write the next book on, the fun begins.  Or rather, the work begins.  I’m not sure I’d classify any part of the whole process as “fun.”  There are certainly enjoyable elements, but I think what drives me is wanting to have the very best end product possible.   Having *done* a book is fun; doing the book is less fun.  If I had to label it as anything I guess I’d say it’s intense.

The work goes through a number of distinct stages, each of them challenging in different ways and requiring different skills.  I think that’s why it’s so hard to write a good book and why so few authors are able to pull it off.  There are various skill-sets required, not one.  And if you’re deficient in any of them, the book simply isn’t going to be very good.

Even before you start you have to decide what is the heart and soul of what you want to accomplish in your book.  That involves knowing what your over-arching point is.  You certainly know the topic already (Greek manuscripts; or contradictions in the New Testament; or the spread of Christianity; or the development of views of the afterlife); but what is the *point* you want to make about it?  You need to know that at the very outset of your work, because it will affect everything you do from the get go, from choosing what to read and knowing how to read it and how to take notes on it and how to devise the book and how to write it.

You start by reading.  And that means you have to know how to know …

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